Concerned employee earns Cherokee National Medal of Patriotism

03/13/2012
March 13, 2012
Principal Chief Bill John Baker shakes hands with tribal citizen Terry Reed after presenting him with the Cherokee National Medal of Patriotism.
Principal Chief Bill John Baker shakes hands with tribal citizen Terry Reed after presenting him with the Cherokee National Medal of Patriotism.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla.— By speaking up about a potential health hazard at an area clinic, a single Cherokee citizen may have saved countless lives. 

Tahlequah resident Terry Reed, who started working for Cherokee Nation’s maintenance department in May 2009, contacted the Cherokee Nation Environmental Program office after noticing what appeared to be asbestos in an area of the Sam Hider Clinic in Jay, Okla., that is undergoing renovation. Thanks to Reed’s diligence, the clinic was closed for two days while the facility was checked. Although the tests came back negative for airborne asbestos, trace amounts were detected in some of the tile and tile adhesive debris in the area.

“Now that we know it is there, we will be taking additional precautions,” Interim Medical Director Dr. Doug Nolan said. “A barrier is now up around the construction area. Any tiles that tested positive for asbestos will be properly disposed of to avoid the risk of making the asbestos airborne and a threat to the employees and patients at the Sam Hider Clinic. The adhesive that tested positive will be resealed under new floor tile to prevent it from becoming airborne.”

“People are there (at the clinic) because they’re sick and need to get well, not get worse,” Reed said. “I wouldn’t wish any harm on my co-workers and the clinic employees, either. I just did what I hope anyone else would have done if they were in my shoes.”

In recognition of his efforts, Principal Chief Bill John Baker publicly thanked him at the March Tribal Council meeting and presented him with the Cherokee National Medal of Patriotism.

“Mr. Reed’s deep concern may have prevented future health problems for our employees and citizens,” Baker said. “The courage he displayed by speaking up is commendable.”
Cherokee Nation News Release

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